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Tragedy Highlights Dangers of Mishandling Breathing Tubes

We all visit hospitals and medical facilities for one reason: to get better. When healthcare professionals mishandle patients or medical equipment, tragedies can follow. A recent case in Texas highlights the dangers of an error in a hospital setting, for Alabama residents and nationwide.

A tragic and preventable death

Katrina Clark was 29 years old when she was hospitalized due to shortness of breath and a numbness in her legs.  She was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome and given a breathing tube. The breathing tube was meant to be temporary, until such time as her symptoms subsided and she could breathe on her own again.

When the breathing tube was placed, the doctors noticed a leak in the tube, but they chose to ignore the problem. They had to be aware of possible complications from a leaking breathing tube, yet they did nothing about it. With a malfunctioning breathing tube, Katrina was not receiving adequate air flow.

The next morning, a nurse repositioned Ms. Clark, unintentionally dislodging the defective breathing tube. This went unnoticed by the nurse and all other medical staff, and Katrina Clark was left without oxygen for 35 minutes. As a result, she suffered severe and irreparable brain damage. She fell into a coma and died a year and a half later.

Katrina's surviving family filed a medical malpractice claim against her care providers, which went all the way to trial. In August, a Dallas jury awarded the family a sum of almost $20 million.

Medical staff must be held accountable for their actions

Katrina Clark's death case highlights the need for medical professionals to pay close attention to detail and immediately address any issues that could put a patient in danger. What is most disturbing about this case is the evidence of a cascading failure across multiple levels in her care team - the doctors failed to replace the defective breathing tube, and the nurse dislodged it while repositioning. For this tragedy to occur at all, multiple healthcare professionals had to fail to provide an adequate standard of care, and that is exactly what happened.

Compounding the issue in this case was the doctor's refusal to settle and provide fair compensation to Katrina's family. According to the family's attorneys, the large verdict was awarded in part because the negligent care providers failed to accept responsibility.

When we go to the hospital because we are ill or injured, we are expecting the medical professionals to provide us with the highest level of care. Our lives are in their hands, and when our health and well-being is neglected, the results can be fatal. When a doctor, nurse or other medical staff makes a life-threatening mistake, they need to be held accountable for their actions.

Attorney Dean Waite and his team have been holding negligent medical providers accountable for years, and they have the knowledge and experience to take on your case as well. If you or a loved one have been injured, contact Dean Waite today.

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